Robots for learning
Social robots have been proven to be highly effective in facilitating learning and education. aHowever, it is important to note that social robots are not solely used as educational tools to teach specific subjects such as mathematics or programming, like Lego Mindstorms. Robots can serve various roles in the learning process, such as a teacher, tutor, peer, or even a sidekick to the teacher. The role of a tutor is preferred by both teachers and students, as it supports the teacher’s teaching and provides a personalized tutoring experience for the student. On the other hand, peer-like robots are used to take a learning journey with the learner, adapting their performance to match the student’s knowledge level. Teachable agent robots are also used as care-receiving robots, where the student teaches the robot, which can boost the learner’s confidence and lead to mastery of the subject. Social robots can also be used as sidekicks to teachers, making lessons more entertaining and capturing student interest.
Research has shown that tutoring has a strong impact on learning, and one-to-one tutoring can lead to significant improvement compared to group learning. Social robots capitalize on this by offering personalized tutoring experiences that are both social and physical. Studies have shown that social robots offer a distinct advantage over computer-based tutoring programs, which may be due to the robot’s social and physical presence, leading to a richer and more embodied learning experience. However, the socially interactive behaviours of robots can backfire in learning contexts, causing students to engage with the robot socially rather than focusing on learning goals. Therefore, human-robot interaction (HRI) research is necessary to guide the development of robots that can effectively support learning.
An example of a robot lecturer in Germany:
A Finland school incorporates robots as teachers:
Robots as teaching assistants in south Korean nursery schools:
Bartneck, C. et al. (2020) Human-Robot Interaction: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108676649.